Monday, April 29, 2013

Letter to the Lonely

Dear Lonely,

Whether surrounded by many "friends" who don't truly understand, or feeling like you don't belong, or being abandoned by someone who was always supposed to be there, loneliness sucks.

Loneliness hurts beyond words. Feeling unwanted or completely misunderstood. That feeling is soul-ripping and heart-wrenching. Trying to ignore it, but it grows and lingers until depression sets in, and that just brings on a whole new world of gloominess and lies. But those lies feel so real. They penetrate the mind, convincing you that there's nothing to look forward to since no one will be there to enjoy things with you. Attempts to numb and dull those feelings (my attempt has always been TV), only last for a short period, and then all those thoughts and feelings return. It feels like being in an ocean, when you get knocked down by a wave, you stand up, trying to shake it off. Out of nowhere, another one comes crashing down, knocking you off your feet and pulling you under yet again. "Why even bother getting up this time?" a voice whispers in your mind.

Satan uses that loneliness as the plate to feed out lies, telling you no one wants you and you're not worth it. In fact, I struggle with believing those thoughts on a daily basis. It is incredibly hard for me to admit that, but if you are that one other person who reads this letter and are encouraged because you know you're not the only one who struggles, then it's worth it.

Satan uses that feeling to bring faithful believers in Christ down to idleness. He uses it to build up bitterness toward people, whom God calls us to love. Satan uses loneliness to take our eyes off of Christ and onto ourselves and our troubles.

I wish I could fully understand the greatness of God and was able to fully express it. In my loneliness, God has been so faithful and revealed so much of Himself. Even when it doesn't feel like it, God is always with you.

Here are some very helpful quotes from a devotional (by Tenth Avenue North and Overflow) I read recently:
"God seldom works in the easy and comfortable...but who wants to have to go through being wronged so that they actually have the opportunity to grow in grace?" I know I don''s so painful.
We can either complain about our circumstances, or "by His grace [we] can take the hard road that leads to life. [We] can think on the sovereignty and goodness of God. Think on His promise that He is able to work everything together into something beautiful....Just take one good look at the cross and that ought to convince you that the God the Bible speaks of is a God who uses horror and injustice to His advantage. The cross is evidence to our minds, and balm [an oily substance of medicinal value] for our souls that our God is a God who brings beauty out of pain."

Matthew 26:3-4
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.

Later parts of chapter 26 mentions "Peter... following him at a distance" (verse 58) and later denying altogether ever knowing him in verses 69-75.

The reason I quote Matthew is that I believe these verses give evidence that Jesus knows exactly what loneliness feels like, so He can completely relate. The leaders of the synagogue, the ones who were supposed to encourage Jesus and trust in His deity, were the very ones who plotted his destruction.  I'll bet that felt so lonely. Even Peter, one of his closest friends, denied ever being friends with Him. Can you imagine if someone you cared about and respected pretended they never even knew you? Just abandoned you? Many people know what that feels like. So does Jesus.  However, Jesus didn't give in to anger and hate when many of us would. Instead, He sought His father in prayer and sacrificed himself to forgive the ones who attempted to destroy him. His resurrection a few days later bashed any hope they had of bringing him down.That same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead also lives in us (Romans 8:11). Because we have that same Spirit, we're able to handle loneliness like Christ did: with complete faithfulness to the Father and forgiveness towards those who may have caused that loneliness. 

So this is my challenge to you who suffer from loneliness: ask God to just reveal himself to you. Seek out His character. Don't ask "what do I need to do?" or "what action do I need to perform now?" Look at who God really is. Tullian Tchividjian said that the way for Christians to mature is not to focus on what we can do for Christ. We need to stop focusing on what we need to do and completely turn our focus to what Christ did and does for us.

As long as our eyes are on ourselves and our loneliness and what we need to accomplish to escape the loneliness, we aren't going to see the wonderful Creator and Healer Who loves us. We need to have our hearts completely wrapped around the love and character of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even when it feels like every person in the world doesn't want you and doesn't think you're worth their time, remember this: the Creator of EVERY good thing desires you! He longs for your company.

Further Encouragement
Psalm 145:18-19
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

"No matter how much we know of the love of Christ, there is always more to know."
-Leon Morris

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Click on the image below to download a copy of 8 Scriptures for Loneliness.